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US Met Coal Exports Dip in 2019 on Drop in Bituminous Coal Demand



February 6, 2020 - US metallurgical coal exports totaled 50 million mt in 2019, down 10.4% from 2018, according to data issued Wednesday by the US Census.

It was the lowest since 2016, when the US exported 37.1 million mt met coal.


Exports of US bituminous coal totaled 28.1 million mt in 2019, down 33% from 2018. It was also the lowest annual total since 2016, when the country exported 14.3 million mt bituminous coal.

Total US coal exports in 2019 were at 84.2 million mt, down 19.7% from 2019.

Lower seaborne prices for both met and thermal coal helped drive down coal exports in 2019.

According to the December 2019 export data issued Wednesday, US met coal exports during the month totaled 3.9 million mt, down 4% from November and down 12.3% from the year-ago month.

US bituminous coal exports in December 2019 totaled 1.54 million mt, down 25.6% from November and down 52% from the year-ago month. Exports of subbituminous coal in December totaled 372,542 mt, down 41% from November and down 1.4% from the year-ago month.


The top destination for US met coal in 2019 was Brazil, which imported 6.6 million mt compared with 7.6 million mt in 2018; followed by Japan, at 6 million mt compared with 5.4 million mt in 2018; and the Netherlands, at 4.6 million mt compared with 5.6 million mt in 2018.


For US bituminous coal, the top importer in 2019 was India, at 7.4 million mt compared with 10.4 million mt in 2018; followed by the Netherlands at 4.3 million mt compared with 5.6 million mt in 2018; and Japan, at 3.7 million mt compared with roughly the same amount in 2018.

The US Energy Information Administration, in its most recent Short-Term Energy Outlook released January, projected US coal exports to total 82.6 million mt in 2020, of which 46.2 million mt will be met coal exports and 36.4 million mt will be thermal coal exports.

The 2020 projection for total US coal exports would be the lowest since 2016, when US coal exports totaled just 54.7 million mt. US coal exports peaked in 2012 at 114.2 million mt.